A minor ailment bothering veteran lefty Bruce Chen has reconfigured the Royals’ starting rotation.
With Chen nursing a tight left glute muscle, manager Ned Yost scratched him from his start on Thursday at Minute Maid Park. In his place, he moved up James Shields to replace Chen and tabbed Jason Vargas to start on Friday. Chen will attempt to return to the mound on Saturday when the team plays host to Minnesota.
In explaining the machinations, Yost mentioned how both Shields and Vargas were working with an extra day of rest thanks to a steady stream of off days. The new schedule “keeps Shields on his regular five days’ (rest),” Yost said. “It keeps Vargas on his regular five days’ (rest). And it gives Bruce a couple of extra days to get through this stiffness.”
The new configuration creates something of a headache for Yost. He does not want Vargas and Chen, a pair of command-centric left-handers, pitching on back-to-back days. He felt it provided a too similar look to opposing clubs.
Confronted with the dilemma, Yost shrugged. “Nothing I can do about it right now,” he said. He does not think he can rearrange the rotation again until the next scheduled off day, which is April 28.
Chen indicated he had been grappling with the tweak for about a week. He insisted he could have pitched on Thursday. But he understood the team’s reasoning.
“I want to help this team in any way I can,” he said. “Right now, it’s early in the season, where I can get this resolved, and it’s out, and I can continue to help the team win.”
He appeared incapable of that this past weekend. In his last start, he could not complete the fourth inning. The Twins tagged him for six runs.
Chen admitted the injury affected his performance.
“The tightness was there,” he said. “So the preparation in between starts wasn’t what we wanted it to be. So that’s why we decided to do a couple extra days.”